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Thread: GP100 44 special strength .

  1. #81
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    Both 357 magnum and 10mm auto offer better performance any way you slice it, and are offered in the exact same model.
    I'm not sure what you refer to as "performance", but if you're referring to bullet energy, that has nothing to do with how well a bullet will or will not kill. Regardless of what the math says, a .35" hole and a .40" hole will never be as large as a .43" hole. And where handguns and relatively slow moving bullets are concerned, bigger holes is what counts.
    35W
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  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by 35 Whelen View Post
    I'm not sure what you refer to as "performance", but if you're referring to bullet energy, that has nothing to do with how well a bullet will or will not kill. Regardless of what the math says, a .35" hole and a .40" hole will never be as large as a .43" hole. And where handguns and relatively slow moving bullets are concerned, bigger holes is what counts.
    35W
    Thankfully bullets can expand if you let them. I don't believe in energy dump either. Still, a 158 grain 357 at 1500 fps or a 170 grain at 1400 fps will cut a larger wound channel and/or penetrate more than any comparable 44 special. I have not seen anything to prove that a 250 grain 44 hard cast bullet at 900 fps will penetrate any more than a 170 grain hard cast 357 at 1400 fps. You can push 44 special beyond it's limits, but you can push a 357 magnum beyond those limits too.

    This is like the old 30-30 vs 44 magnum argument. By your logic 44 magnum crushes 30-30... but it doesn't. Right out of the muzzle you may have a point, but the farther you get from point blank, the more 30-30 beats the 44 magnum.

  3. #83
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Thankfully bullets can expand if you let them.
    Have you actually tested them, though? I have on homemade FBI-spec calibrated gelatin. The truth is that you CAN get cast bullets to expand, and they expand pretty much at 800 FPS or greater reliably if the alloy is soft enough. That isn't the issue. The issue is getting BOTH expansion and SUFFICIENT PENETRATION to work on deer size game. This is do-able with 357 magnum, but it by no means requires high velocities. The most effective load I've tested to date is a MP-Molds 359 Hammer with Small hollow point pushed by 13.5 grains of 2400 for about 1200 FPS out of mu 4" M19 and about 1250 FPS out of my 5" 686. Out of my Marlin the bullet fragments Actually, at only 1350 FPS it fragments with the alloy I am using 91-6-2 (pb-sn-sb). So in this case more velocity makes it perform worse, not better. That load at 1200-1250 FPS all the way down to about 900 FPS will expand to 60-67 caliber and go 13 to 19 inches deep. To me this isn't quite enough penetration to be satisfied. It is my opinion that in general 357 Mag bullets are underweight. I suspect the optimal cast HP performance would be obtained using a 180-200 grain bullet in that caliber.

    The best performing JHP by far I have tested in 357 mag is the 180 grain XTP. ~16 grains of 300 MP is the absolute maximum performance that can be obtained without going over SAMMI 35KPSI.

    With the larger calibers you have assurance of a decent sized hole (granted 43 caliber is not 60 or 67 caliber) AND ample penetration (over two feet) using an appropriate for caliber (like 220-265 grain) bullet. Plus there is no possibility that the hollowpoint will plug (sometimes very heavy clothing) or collapse angles at about 45 degrees or more a less to impact surface. Perpendicular is best.

    Hollow points are like a parachute. They slow down the bullet and that stops how deeply they penetrate. You need momentum (a function of mass x velocity) so they go deep enough. That's hard to do with 357 mag and basically impossible with any shorter 36 caliber cartridge. There isn't enough room. Even 357 Max cannot really handle bullets heavier than the Lyman 358627 (about 215-220 grains) without shedding serious velocity.

    Compare this to a 44 Special with 16 grains of 2400 (a Brian Pearce level II load, not even level III). This should go around 1150 with the Lyman 429421, a 255 grain bullet. This load will definitely penetrate well and still make a respectable 43 caliber hole across the entire range that normal revolvers can be practically used (100 yards let's say). It will still be going ~900 FPS or greater at that range.

    The absolute best performance I've found from a cast HP with 357 has been the stated load above which may not really penetrate sufficiently, and would certainly be dubious at 100 yards when it would only penetrate around a foot.

    Also, never overlook the importance of placing the shot over a piece of vital anatomy. Accuracy and ability should be top priorities.

  4. #84
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    I'm just comparing ballistics tests done by other people, I don't even own a 44 special. Paul Harrel on Youtube is a good resource, I love his meat target. 357 magnum gives some real impressive performance, 44 special is just ho-hum. I don't mean that in any way to degrade your choice of 44 special. If that is what you want, then that is what you want. You don't need any more reason than that.

    In my own testing, I have found a solid cast bullet at even slow velocities can penetrate like mad. A good example was some 45 ACP rounds. When I first started with a 255gr SWC, my first loads were likely only 600-650 fps. They still went deep enough into the dirt berm to make recovering them a real chore. They went deeper than most hollow points.

    I guess what I am saying is that if you want a 44 special to shoot solid bullets, it works just fine as it was intended. If a 44 caliber hole clean through a deer (or two) is the goal, you've got it. If you want more, I think a 357 magnum is better. That's just me.

  5. #85
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I too enjoy Paul Harrel, but the so-called "meat target," which also includes various citrus fruits, is PURE RUBBISH methodology and a profound waste. It's a pity too because the guy is spot on with most things. For 50 bucks the guy could be homebrewing gel and actually get data that is both comparable to others' and one could draw rational conclusions from. I've sent him messages. To date he has either not read them or just wants to keep pointlessly destroying the various grocery store items he does. Also, I've never known Herrell to either cast or handload. 44 Special factory loads are indeed Ho-Hum. I am talking about Level II or Level III 44 Special handloads which are not 44 Magnum power, but are significantly more than SAMMI spec 44 special. The Ruger GP and other modern, larger or medium frame revolvers can handle the Level III while even the Charter Arms bulldog can handle Level II.

    Gel is the most convenient and straight forward of the valid ballistic test mediums, and that is why everybody who does this stuff for real uses it. The great thing is it can be done simply at home. ~50 bucks of powdered unflavored gelatin mixed at 9:2 by volume with water, cooked, and cast into a cheap plastic file cabinet and set overnight in a refrigerator is all it takes to make. To get proper calibration a Daisy 880 with some 17 caliber steel BBs is all you need (2.9-3.4" penetration of bare gel with BB at ~585 FPS). Put it on a old picknic table. Voilia...terminal ballistics lab every bit as valid as a real one except you will only get one or two shots before you wreck the gel or it gets too warm to shoot. I can live with that.

    No need to apologize megasupermagnum; I am a huge fan of 357 magnum, and 10mm frankly. Without a doubt 357/38SPL is the most essential revolver cartridge. I've shot deer with it (though usually out of a carbine, which sort of changes things as it pushes the velocity into near rifle ranges where solid cast bullets expand). Frankly, I think 357 in a carbine beats 30-30 under 75 yards. Past 100, 30-30 surpasses it. And 357 manages this with half the powder charge! For the last few months I've been doggedly chasing after the ideal 357 revolver deer load. I may have to get a very expensive mold to accomplish this as none of the HP bullets I have tried have provided what I consider ample penetration for larger deer taken at sub-optimal angles (I consider 2 feet of penetration a target benchmark). Trust me, when and if I find a cast 357 load that can expand to fifty caliber and go 2 feet deep I will report it here. So far only the 158 or 180 grain Hornady XTP have delivered this performance.

    You are right in observing (not sure on your methodology, but what you say is true) very good penetration from solid cast bullets at handgun velocities. The Lyman 358429 in 38 special loads (like 800 FPS) has passed clear through two of my 14" gel blocks (>28" of penetration). No doubt other heavy for caliber bullets would do the same thing. But with 38/357 this is only a 36 caliber hole. At handgun velocities solids just do not expand. The lowest velocity I've observed any expansion is around 900 FPS with flat nosed solids cast of a VERY soft (like 32:1) alloy that would normally lead up 357 Mag. With the alloys needed to not lead a barrel you are generally going to be going to fast for them to expand.

    I have paper patched soft-cast 429 bullets and shot them from my 44 Mag marlin. These could be driven hard enough to expand. But paper patching is extremely laborious, fit for rifles only in my opinion. And the problem with rifles and cast HPs is they usually frag.

    In normal sized handguns a Level III 44 special is just more potent than 357 Mag. 16 or 17 grains of 2400 is more than 13.5. The Lyman 429421 is basically a scaled up 358429, with the same sectional density (in other words penetration). Level III (25KPSI) 44 special is 17 grains of 2400 with the 255 grain 429421. Modern 35KPSI 357 mag is 13.5 grains with the 358429, at 168 grain bullet, if crimped in the groove. 44 special has more powder (20%), more bullet (34%), more minimum permanent wound channel (30%) and the same penetrative potential. The velocity of these loads run about the SAME out of a 4-6" revolver (about 100 FPS or 12% greater for the maggie), so their capacity to induce expansion is about the same (44 probably a little better since it has a greater frontal area). 44 Special level III simply outclasses 357 and does it with much lower pressure, allowing a softer bullet to be used. And yea, I've tried other powders besides 2400 chasing greater velocity with 357. 296 gets you maybe 25 FPS in 4" revolver. 300MP will get you maybe 50. There just isn't enough barrel. The same stuff holds true when you hollow-point. The 44 will expand more and go to the same depth if comparable bullets are used.

    If the target is thinner skinned and bodied (like small game, coyotes, and bipedal primates) then 357 with a HP is the way to go. If I were a 1960s lawman and could pick what I carried, it would be a 4" S&W Model 19 loaded with a ~158 grain bullet cast of 16:1 with a medium sized, tapered conical HP pushed by 13.5 grains of 2400. I carry my 4" M19 in the woods with me to plug coyotes/feral dogs. It is as near to perfect as I can imagine for this task. And it doesn't have to be pushed to do this. A 158 grain cast HP bullet crimped in the normal place with 13.5 grains of 2400 (the Elmer Keith 38HighVelocity load) is probably only ~30,000 PSI. In the 1961 edition of Sixguns The Prophet Keith specifically recommended it for the M19 (recognizing way back then that it would probably be stressed by anything greater in power). The M19 "provisos" we have today learned from hard experience in the 1970s were foretold two decades before by the man who invented the magnums!
    Last edited by curioushooter; 02-03-2020 at 02:03 AM.

  6. #86
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    @curiousshooter nailed it. Expanding bullets indeed act like parachutes. John Barsness of Handloader and Rifle magazine explained it best; (paraphrasing) When a bullet expands, thereby increasing its frontal diameter, its sectional density, and therefore it's ability to penetrate, is lowered. So if your 158 gr. .357 bullet expanded to say .45", it would have roughly the penetrative quality of a .45 caliber round ball, which weighs around 145 grs.

    I've only recovered four cast bullets from game. One was a 258 gr. .45 caliber SWC that struck a buck at around 1050 fps and travelled through around 30" of muscle and organs. The other three were HP's and in all three cases the shots were broadside.

    This is a 162 gr. HP fired at 1700 fps from a .357 carbine into a hog at about 40 yds. I found it under the skin on the offside.



    This one was 250 gr. cast SWCHP from a 7 1/2" Uberti .44 Special. MV was a little over 1100 fps and it hit a buck 38 yds. away, stopping under the hide on the off-side.



    This last one was a 265 gr. SWCHP fired from a 5 1/2" Uberti 45 Colt with a MV of 1050 fps. It struck a buck 48 yds. away, high right behind the shoulder and stopped under the skin-



    In each case penetration was significantly reduced. I know this because I killed similar game with .44 and .45 caliber solid SWC's and on broadside shots they penetrate completely. Last deer season I shot a buck at 41 yds. standing almost broadside with a .45 Colt running a 288 gr. SWC a little under 1000 fps. It of course penetrated completely. And don't let anyone tell you that SWC's, even at relatively low impact velocities, don't make large wound channels. This is what that .45 caliber bullet did-





    Where handgun bullets are concerned, I'll take penetration over expansion any day.

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  7. #87
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    35W....excellent data there. It's amazing to me how closely gel data is corroborated by the genuine article. What alloys were you running (if you remember)?

    One of the great take home messages I've gotten from gel testing so far has been that pat 1100 FPS it doesn't count for much unless you can get it going to 1500 FPS or greater. There is just not much improvement in terminal performance that occurs between 1100 and 1500 FPS or so from cast solids or HPs. With JHPs its a different story. The 158 grain XTP HP performs best at 1300-1400 FPS.

    Cast hollow points expand very well at more moderate velocities of 900-1100...many fragment at 1300-1400 FPS. Once you get up to 1500s you can get expansion in cast solids. With a 357 carbine this is DO-able (though typically some ablation of the bullet occurs as you can see). I can get the RCBS 358-158-SWCGC and the MP359 Hammer going fast enough to expand, but their limitation is that they don't weigh quite enough to go the 2 feet that I think is ideal. In a handgun neither of these expand. The HP version of the MP359Hammer expands just as well at 900 impact velocity as it does at 1200. It goes a little deeper at the higher velocity (more momentum). It makes a brilliant small game/coyote/bipedal primate load. The 158 and 180 XTPs typically do not expand much past .55" and so they can go two feet, especially the 180. Because cast HP bullets do not have that jacket to strengthen their sides, they expand rather violently in an uncontrolled fashion, so all you have is mass and velocity to get penetration.

    That said it seems your cast HPs did their job well enough. A bullet flying through a deer with a ton of velocity left isn't really all that great.

    In terms of defining cast bullet performance from handguns on medium to large edible non-dangerous game I think that a larger bore solid cast bullet going 1200 fps at the muzzle is ideal. It will not expand but will deliver ample penetration across the entire practical range (to approx 100 yards), a reasonable diameter wound channel, no fragmentation (contamination of meat), and not be so punishing on the shooter so as to promote practice and proficiency.

    When I started handgun hunting years ago it was with a Ruger SBH Bisley in 44 mag with a 8.5" tube and due to a case of severe magnumits largely encouraged by my friend I loaded it to max loads. 26 grains of Win 296 with a 265 grain cast RNFP if I recall. It was pretty brutal stuff, and that thing was HEAVY. It just wasn't fun. My shooting with it was poor. And it really wasn't especially accurate when I shot it off sandbags.

    So I switched to 357 mag (in a 686) and 357 max (10" contender) and was quite happy with Hornandy's XTPs but I never found a cast load I really liked, though I found some in mag that were pretty good. I am confident with the contender out past 100 yards with the 180 grain XTP, 21.5 grains of LilGun, and an Ultradot. It is almost a ballistic match to my 357 Marlin. Both send the 180 grain XTP to 1700 FPS. This load is a sold deer load to 125 yards. Bullet expands to .55-.65 and will go at least 19" deep. It penetrates closer to 2 feet over most of the range.

    But I really want to just settle on an all purpose cast deer load from a revolver. I want to be able to take more than one deer at a time. To many times now I had to pass on one or two does because I was reloading my single shot Contender. Even with a bracelet ammo holder it just isn't as fast as a revolver (also, the cycling of a lever is definitely more noisy that the rotation of a revolver. I've tried it slow, which can jam, and I've tried it fast...it spooks them half the time). After quite bit or reading I decided to go traditional. A 44 special with a 250 grain SWC pushed by 16-17 grains of 2400 for about 1200 FPS from a 6.5" S&W 624. I really have great hopes for this thing as it seemed so beloved by so many of the pioneers.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 02-07-2020 at 02:38 PM.

  8. #88
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    That is one of the more impressive pictures I've seen of what a solid bullet did to an animal. Still, a 357 magnum with a good hollow point will do that, and with a heck of a lot less recoil.

  9. #89
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Still, a 357 magnum with a good hollow point will do that, and with a heck of a lot less recoil.
    Says who? I've done the testing. Only JHPs can deliver comparable performance (a direct result of the copper jacket, which reduces expansion allowing for deeper penetration). Every cast 357 HP has not penetrated to the depth I think is optimal for deer sized animals (2 feet). I was considering purchasing a 200+ grain HP 358 mold to test, but we are starting to get into the recoil territory of a larger bore size. So nothing is gained really. The relationship between mass, velocity, and expansion and penetration is so consistent there are mathematical formulae that can summarize it without testing. HPing serves to increase expansion of the projectile in the target. This makes the cavity wider at the cost of potential penetration. On a thin skinned, thin bodied animals (small game up to bipedal primates), this is a worthwhile exchange as a bullet penetrating through the target doesn't do any additional damage. This exchange makes less sense with medium skinned medium bodied animals (deer). It it is a bad exchange with any thick skinned or thick bodied animal where maximum penetration is desirable. The size of the wound channel is the factor most related to rapid blood loss and death (after shot placement of course). The channel's size is a basically the volume of a cylinder, that is Pi X Radius^2 X length. Let's compare three options.

    357 Magnum loaded with MP 359Hammer Small HP propelled by 13.5 grains of 2400 (1225 FPS) from a 5", 40oz, S&W 686.
    This expands to about .65 in calibrated ballistic gel and penetrates to about 19 inches at 1200 FPS impact velocity and 13 inches at 900 FPS impact velocity (~100 yards). This translates to a wound volume of 6.3 cubic inches and 4.3 cubic inches respectively. In fact it may not even pass through a typical whitetail leaving only one hole to leak blood.

    Next example is the same revolver with a 158 grain Hornady XTP pushed by 14.5 grains of 2400. This goes 1250 FPS at the muzzle and 950 FPS at 100 yards. This bullet will expand to around .55 and go 21-24" deep. This translates to a wound volume of 5 cubic inches and 5.7 cubic inches. It will probably pass through a smallish whitetail with a well placed broadside shot. It will probably leave two holes to leak blood from. These bullets cost around 20 cents a piece, and are an outstanding bargain for this kind of performance.

    The 358429 even out of a 38 special penetrates over 28." But if a 24" standard is adopted this translates to only 2.4 cubic inch wound channel! Solids are not a great choice for 357 IMO.

    Now lets compare it to a 44 Special level III load from a 6.5", 43 oz, S&W 624. This will drive a 255 grain 429421 to 1200 FPS with a charge of 17 grains of 2400 at the muzzle. It will be going around 900 FPS at 100 yards. This bullet is not expected to expand and therefore it will cut a .43 hole but it is expected to reliably penetrate through the animal from pretty much any angle, through bone, etc. If I take a figure of 24 inches of penetration this means the 44 special will produce a 3.5 cubic inch wound channel and two leaky holes reliably (this is 31% more than the 357 can offer with a solid). This is with approximately the same weight revolver, a longer sighting radius, and marginally more recoil. This is why the observed performance of solid 44s on deer is not all that impressive, but certainly is better than what 357 can offer. What is pointless IMO is superblasting 44s or 357s to 1400 FPS or greater. That extra velocity does little to nothing to improve performance. Unless the IMPACT velocity of a solid is >~1400 FPS you cannot expect significant expansion with an alloy hard enough to be launched at that velocity without leading and accuracy problems. It's all just a bunch of extra recoil. Those velocities also typically frag cast HPs. Sturdy JHPs like the XTP can usually handle it, though some are better than others.

    Cast HPs or using a 240 grain XTP will offer substantially improved expansion in the 44 like the 357 but at the expense of penetration. Mind that 44s at this velocity will expand to three quarters of an inch or greater, far surpassing what 36 caliber bullets are capable of at any velocity. So anything gained by HPing is gained all the more with the larger bore as shown by 35W. But again the question of reliable penetration depth across the entire range arises. Unlike the 357, where some expansion is very important, even an un-expanded 44 makes a respectable wound volume. And so solids can be a good choice.

    I am absolutely convinced that placing the shot over vital anatomy is more important than anything. The second most important thing is the projectile penetrating the animal. The third most important is the diameter of the wound channel. Features like 100% weight retention is nice too. After all, I eat these things. The XTP holds together very well, but weight loss of 20% is not unusual.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 02-08-2020 at 03:20 PM.

  10. #90
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    You already know I can't show you anything that you would accept as credible. I can tell you that you are far and away over thinking this. The testing you do is a great way to compare loads, but you still need the real world results.

    I can tell you two things for certain. You do not need 24" of penetration in your ballistics gel to pass through a deer. Looking through some of your posts, loads that have penetrated a measly 13" in your gel, I have shot pass through's on deer. There is only a very small number of bullets I have not seen pass through. A white tailed deer are not tough, and they are not wide.

    I can tell you for sure, that a 357 magnum, even vanilla 158 grain factory loads, will produce a hole almost identical to the one picture above, and exit the other side. No it won't penetrate 2' in gel, it might not even penetrate 2' through an animal, but it will go clean through the chest of a deer. And it does that from a gun 2/3rd the weight, with 1/2 the recoil of a 44 magnum or a hopped up 45 colt.

    All that said, we all know a 44 special is a fine deer cartridge. I just don't see why you would hotrod it with a solid bullet. I'd be surprised if the bullet didn't penetrate 2' even with a 900 fps muzzle velocity.

    One last thing, the H&G #503 (keith bullet), makes a fair size hole because it has a decent sized flat nose of .275". If you got a 357 bullet with a .275" meplat you could match the size of the hole. It would never match penetration of the 44 bullet, as it would be lighter, but both would penetrate through a deer from even extreme angles.
    Last edited by megasupermagnum; 02-08-2020 at 09:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walkingwolf View Post
    I believe both Skeeter, and Kieth blew up a few N Frame 44 specials. My understanding is the barrel threads are the same size as the 357 making for thinner forcing cone. Smith intentionally made the threaded portion thicker on the 69, compared to the 696 which had problems with split forcing cones. Another problem is the GP six shot has offset cylinder stop notches, which in a five shot the notches are over thinner cylinder than the 357. The Smith 686 six shot the cylinder notches are over a thin area of the cylinder, but not on the 69 because of the odd number capacity. Now enter the 686 plus, which is probably stronger than the 686.

    If you blow up the GP Ruger will probably warranty it. Fingers, and eyes do not fall under warranty. IMO hot 44 special ammo should be used on a limited basis, hunting, or self defense.
    I think Keith’s loads claimed more Colt SSAs than anything else.

  12. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtarm View Post
    I think Keith’s loads claimed more Colt SSAs than anything else.
    Yes, Elmer never blew up an N frame, or a 44 special of any kind. It was two Colt's in 45 colt, that is the reason he went to the 44 special in the first place. As for the GP100, I'm no engineer, but the cylinder is not weak on these. It's a stout 5 shot cylinder. The forcing cone is the only question, and it's still about twice as thick as a Bulldog.

  13. #93
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    I can tell you two things for certain. You do not need 24" of penetration in your ballistics gel to pass through a deer. Looking through some of your posts, loads that have penetrated a measly 13" in your gel, I have shot pass through's on deer. There is only a very small number of bullets I have not seen pass through. A white tailed deer are not tough, and they are not wide.

    I can tell you for sure, that a 357 magnum, even vanilla 158 grain factory loads, will produce a hole almost identical to the one picture above, and exit the other side. No it won't penetrate 2' in gel, it might not even penetrate 2' through an animal, but it will go clean through the chest of a deer. And it does that from a gun 2/3rd the weight, with 1/2 the recoil of a 44 magnum or a hopped up 45 colt.

    All that said, we all know a 44 special is a fine deer cartridge. I just don't see why you would hotrod it with a solid bullet. I'd be surprised if the bullet didn't penetrate 2' even with a 900 fps muzzle velocity.

    One last thing, the H&G #503 (keith bullet), makes a fair size hole because it has a decent sized flat nose of .275". If you got a 357 bullet with a .275" meplat you could match the size of the hole. It would never match penetration of the 44 bullet, as it would be lighter, but both would penetrate through a deer from even extreme angles.
    A couple of things here:

    First, a good .357 bullet likely will penetrate a deer, if conditions are ideal. That means broadside shots only where no significant resistance such as muscle and bone are encountered. If ones shot is just a little off and a shoulder or leg bone is struck, a .357 bullet is going to suffer. The nice thing about a .43" solid SWC is its ability to out-penetrate smaller expanding bullets. As one who has used cast HP's on game and seen first-hand how well they work, I still prefer the security of added penetration if/when needed.

    Two seasons ago I used my '92 carbine .357 on a doe and it was a disaster. I used the bullet/load pictured above only with the small HP. After three broadside shots through the lungs she ran a good ways and finally laid down and I finished her off with one in the neck. By the time I got her gutted, drug out of the field, walked to the truck, drove it back and got her loaded it was too dark for a post-mortem. I hate animals dying slow like that and I learned a lesson that I really should've already known.

    I do feel you are correct in your assertion that the .44 Special doesn't really need to be hot-rodded for typical hunting. I sight my hunting loads (.43" 255 gr SWC at 950 fps and .45" 265-288 gr. SWC @ 950-1000 fps), to strike 1.5"-2.0" high at 50 yds. and they more or less strike POA at 75 yds., and at this point that's the furthest I'm comfortable shooting at game with open sighted revolvers. And FWIW, said bullet will still be moving almost 900 fps at that range, plenty fast enough for deer.

    Regarding the weight issue, .357's, in similar size revolvers, will always be heavier than larger caliber revolvers simply because there's more metal in the smaller caliber. The revolvers with which I hunt most are a 4 3/4" Uberti's in .44 Special and .45 Colt, and I also have one in .357. Their weights are: .357- 41 oz.; .44 Special- 38 oz. and 45 Colt- 37 oz. The .357 is nowhere near 1/3 lighter than the larger caliber examples. While I was weighing I grabbed a 4" K-Frame Smith (Model 15) and even it weighs 33 oz., still not 2/3 the weight of any of the others.

    So if you want to hunt with a .357, more power to you, but if you use it enough, the day will come when it will let you down as so many have learned already.

    @curioushooter my HP alloy is 8.5-9.0 Bhn.

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  14. #94
    Boolit Buddy Rodfac's Avatar
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    Forget about your quest to see just how good the Ruger is unless you have enough funds for another Ruger laying around.
    Not to mention your eyes, hands and the safety of the guy next to you at the range.... Get another gun that's built for what you intend to do...This directed to the original OP...3+ years ago...but the warning still serves....YMMv, Rod
    Last edited by Rodfac; 02-10-2020 at 11:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtarm View Post
    I think Keith’s loads claimed more Colt SSAs than anything else.
    One of Elmers 45s was blown with black powder loaded in a a balloon head case under a heavy boolit. the case head blew out and took the loading gate with it.

  16. #96
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    The testing you do is a great way to compare loads, but you still need the real world results.
    Is the testing not in the real world? Gel is real stuff.

    Look, I process about as many deer in a season (I do it semi-professionally with my wife who doesn't hunt) as some hunters will take in a lifetime. Granted, now that Indiana has moved to allowing rifle cartridges, I see far fewer 12 gauge slugs and 357s and 44s than I used to. I see a whole lot more rifles and broadheads now.

    It was seeing these different real world wounds that made me turn onto gel so I could figure out what was actually going on.

    Some of the most impressive deer stops I've personally have had are with 357 in a rifle. Were talking bang flops comparable to the 12 gauge slugs, but I think this is more to do with fortunate shot placement than anything. I've also used 44 mag rifles, and 30-30, 357 Max contender, 50 caliber round ball sidelock muzzloader, and 12 gauge Lee slugs. And I've seen a lot of crazy stuff brought to me. Little wimpy 95 grain 410 shotgun slugs kill deer just fine if everything is IDEAL. The thing is with my luck things are seldom ideal. The deer that likes to cover his lungs with a nice big oak tree and then winds you and walks off presenting only the chance of a so-called Texas Heart Shot (which I call a butt shot). This is not a shot I would typically take unless desperate because I don't care much for corn and bean salad in the venison. But this is "the real world" as you say. In this case having a solid 3 feet of penetration is about the only way to ensure you hit the vitals, and that will be delivered by a 44 special field load in a way that every combination of 357 revolver loads I've tested cannot.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 02-10-2020 at 12:59 PM.

  17. #97
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I do feel you are correct in your assertion that the .44 Special doesn't really need to be hot-rodded for typical hunting. I sight my hunting loads (.43" 255 gr SWC at 950 fps and .45" 265-288 gr. SWC @ 950-1000 fps), to strike 1.5"-2.0" high at 50 yds. and they more or less strike POA at 75 yds., and at this point that's the furthest I'm comfortable shooting at game with open sighted revolvers. And FWIW, said bullet will still be moving almost 900 fps at that range, plenty fast enough for deer.
    This bears repeating. I've tested a lot of gel and a very consistent take home message is that impact velocity between 800-1100 FPS sees a steady improvement in performance with cast hollowpoints while after about 1200 FPS IMPACT velocity the performance may actually decrease with too much expansion/insufficient penetration, fragmentation, etc. This said about the optimal MUZZLE VELOCITY for a hunting revolver used to a max of 100 yards or so is ~1200 FPS. The BC of most heavy for caliber SWCs like the 358429 and the 429421 is around .2. This results in about 900 FPS at 100 yards which is is plenty. Once below ~800 FPS IMPACT velocity, HPs probably will not open and even solids start to suffer from lack of momentum unless they are super heavy for caliber (like 200+ grain in 357 or 300+ grain in 44).

    One of the great surprises of this conclusion is that 44 Mag is not materially better than a heavy (level II or level II) 44 special and that much of the last 60 years of revolver load development oriented towards extreme velocity is actually a step backwards. Unless you can get truly rifle-like impact velocities (like over 1600 FPS) it just seems to increase recoil, noise, and blast more than anything. This is why a 357 rifle or something like a 357 Max contender (which can easily send 158s over 1900 FPS and 180s past 1700) seemingly do things that revolvers just can't.

    I too share the caution given open sighted revolvers, and certainly if shooting offhand. Sitting in a comfortable field position (the best way I've found is to sit like Ted Keith is depicted in 1961 Ed. of Sixguns with back curled against a tree knees bent and holding the hands which hold the revolver) or with shooting sticks I feel like 100 yards is do-able. With my Contender wearing an Ultradot I feel entirely comfortable past ranges where I can ethically take a shot (I cannot usually resolve whether short antlers are present or not past 100 yards without magnification). Every time I've tried to put a scope on a handgun eye relief issues have frustrated me, so I just don't try anymore. Scopes are for rifles IMO.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 02-10-2020 at 01:19 PM.

  18. #98
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    I've got a GP100 44 Special, the 3" version and once had the 5" full lug. I think they're pretty strong, can easily handle level 3 loads. I've had the GP100 10mm and measured the cylinder wall thickness both inside and out and it's essentially identical to Blackhawk 45 Colt. The thing is, 10mm can easily run at 37.5K and I'm sure some of the real hot 10mm pushes and even exceeds 40K. The cylinder walls on the Gp100 44 are much thicker internally but the external walls are slightly thinner, so I don't see why the GP100 44 couldn't handle 30K psi, but I'm not sure how many load that high with the 44 Special, so I'm sure the 25K Lv.3 loads are a-okay.

  19. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    Thankfully bullets can expand if you let them. I don't believe in energy dump either. Still, a 158 grain 357 at 1500 fps or a 170 grain at 1400 fps will cut a larger wound channel and/or penetrate more than any comparable 44 special. I have not seen anything to prove that a 250 grain 44 hard cast bullet at 900 fps will penetrate any more than a 170 grain hard cast 357 at 1400 fps. You can push 44 special beyond it's limits, but you can push a 357 magnum beyond those limits too.

    This is like the old 30-30 vs 44 magnum argument. By your logic 44 magnum crushes 30-30... but it doesn't. Right out of the muzzle you may have a point, but the farther you get from point blank, the more 30-30 beats the 44 magnum.
    In Sixguns Elmer Keith discussed penetration tests on blocks of imitation bear muscle. 270 and 300 Magnum blew up in the first block. The 30-06 in the second, the 30-40 Krag 220 grain in the third block. "The 4 inch S&W 44 Special with Keith 250 grain bullet and 18.5 grains of 2400 in old style cases went right through three blocks of this material and lodged with the point well buried in the fourth block." ... "The only rifle loads that went through all four blocks were the old .45/70/500 grain lead bullets, smokeless Government contract load, and the .45/120/566 Sharps; both went right through all four blocks and kicked up dirt on the other side, then howled away."
    You Can Vote Your Way Into Socialism, But You Have To Shoot Your Way Out of it.

  20. #100
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I've got a GP100 44 Special, the 3" version and once had the 5" full lug. I think they're pretty strong, can easily handle level 3 loads.
    Yea...you think. Maybe you should think again...and consider that the author of the idea of the Category II/III 44 Special pressure divisions now states plainly that L-frame Smiths should be used only with SAMMI spec (15,500 psi) 44 special loads.

    I suspect you are focusing on the wrong matter...chamber wall thickness...the more critical dimension in my opinion is the thickness of the barrel where it threads into the frame. The GP100 like the S&W 696 uses a 357 sized hole in the frame and 357 OD diameter barrel. If you examine a S&W 69 (a L-frame 44 Magnum) it has a much larger hole in the frame with a correspondingly larger OD diameter barrel than the 686 (L-frame 357). K frame Smiths have mighty thin chambers and their bolt stop cuts are over the chamber and they endured 45K CUP 357s for decades with no reports to cylinders letting go...it was their barrel/forcing cone that was weakest link.

    This said...I recommend caution with using any originally 357 (this would exclude the 357 Blackhawks, which were based on a 44 size frame to being with) sized factory firearm bored out to 44 Special with category II or III type loads. In 13 years or so we may find out that they just couldn't handle it long term. Just because a revolver doesn't explode does not mean you are not pushing it beyond its limits.

    I do think that the 357 revolvers converted by skilled smiths will probably be ok since they do such a good job of making sure that everything is aligned, that threads aren't compressed, etc. Because these revolvers are put together better than a factory can they don't suffer as great of stresses even with the same power ammunition.

    As for 10mm GPs...they haven't been around very long and 40 caliber leaves 14% more steel in the barrel than a 44 special does. A full powered 10mm is about 20-25% less powerful than a category III 44 special load as well.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 02-26-2020 at 03:40 PM.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check